The inaugural Head and Neck Cancer Patient, Carer and Team Forum will take place in Sydney at St Vincent’s Hospital on Friday June 12, 2020.
I am very excited to be working with patient advocate Julie McCrossin to convene this forum. It is a unique opportunity for head and neck cancer patients, carers and treating professionals from Australia and New Zealand to learn from one another about “Living Well Before, During and After Treatment”.
Julie and I are bringing together patients, family members, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dentists, allied health practitioners, GPs, volunteers, surgeons, nurses, researchers, cancer care coordinators, psychologists and social workers to share examples of the good work being done to improve the lives of people affected by head and neck cancer.
I want to encourage fellow head and neck surgeons, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists to attend the forum. Listening to patients outside the consulting room is a rare but valuable opportunity. Over the past few years I have learned a lot from Julie and made a number of changes to my practice in response to her suggestions. As a surgical oncologist it is easy to forget that I am an expert in treating head and neck cancer but not in living with head and neck cancer.
Allied health workers such as speech pathologists, specialist physiotherapists, dietitians and psychologists are also encouraged to attend. You are the clinicians who spend the most time working with patients managing the long term side effects of these cancers and have enormous insight into quality of life after cancer treatment.
Of course I also want to encourage patients and their carers to attend. Julie and I know that head and neck cancer can be a very isolating experience which is why we are working hard to create a patient focused event. Whether you are new to supporting a loved one with this disease or a seasoned expert, you have a huge amount to offer other people attending the forum, including me. I particularly want carers to know they are welcome to attend with or without their patient.
So please check out the forum’s website to learn more about the program and speakers, and register to attend. The forum is free to patients, family and volunteers. Other attendees can register for a fee of $25. Registering is important. Many of you will be traveling and we want to make sure we have a cup of tea or thickened fluids ready when you get here!